Lots of people dream of exotic locals, of white beaches and luxuriant hotels, perhaps cruise ships, or the bright lights of casinos. My fantasy is pointedly different; wide canyon walls, majestic waterfalls, and acres of beckoning trails. Where am I talking about? Letchworth State Park, of course. There’s no place I’d rather be.
Yes, I admit the park’s name is funny. At first I laughed, thinking my stepfather was making up a place when he proposed it as a romantic setting for my upcoming honeymoon. Then I saw a few pictures, and was convinced. From the first visit, I was hooked for life. Walking there with my new husband, the sights were captivatingly beautiful. TheGlenIrisInnhad delightful food and intriguing wine, and the cottage that we stayed in was both homey, and also a comforting escape when the late fall weather turned unexpectedly to snow. We liked it so much, we went again the following year to relive our happy time. Is there any wonder that I wouldn’t seek to sneak that romantic setting into one of my stories?
Night Music, one of my short stories from the new anthology Midnight Thirsts 2, is set at Letchworth State Park. Many of the places I mention, including Caroline’s cottage, The Chalet, The Glen Iris Inn, and Inspiration Point, are all real sites. You can also do rafting, hot air ballooning, and horseback riding, as referred to in the story. If you are anywhere near the park, I strongly encourage you to visit, even if it’s just to drive through. The canyon and waterfalls are not to be missed.
So what is your vacation fantasy, dear readers? Give me some feedback. Who knows, your setting might just be the inspiration for my next romance! A lucky commenter wins an e-copy of Midnight Thirsts 2 for the best answer!
Blurb, excerpt, bio, buy link and other links
Blurb: Night Music by Tara Fox Hall, from Midnight Thirsts II:
Grieving Krys Markman has come to lose herself in family memories at Letchworth State Park, and try to figure out her next step. Yet the unearthly beautiful music she hears each night stirs her soul to romance. Can its creator, the attractive vampire David Helm, heal her broken heart?
Krys walked slowly toward the low stone wall, the roaring of the falls capturing all her attention as she rested her hands on the cold rock slabs. The view was as magnificent as ever; the towering waterfall spanning the wide river, the trails beside it framed with stone and concrete walls more than fifty feet below. The early spring afternoon felt more like late summer, the air balmy and comfortable, even in her T-shirt and jeans.
Letchworth State Park. The place was exactly the same, but everything was different. Her parents were gone, and now her brother was, too. They’d come here as a foursome every summer and stayed for a week, renting a rough built cabin. It had been bare bones, lacking heat, water, or even a private outhouse. But it had always been a good time to her and Bill: fishing, hiking, playing games, and encountering the wildlife. Each summer, her parents always treated Krys and her brother to one special adventure. For Krys, that had been the whitewater rafting outfit that operated below the lower falls. For her brother, Bill, that had been either horseback riding or a ride over the river via hot air balloon.
They’d had such good times here…
Pretending to brush back her hair, Krys brushed away a tear, conscious of the many tourists still snapping pictures of the falls. Why had she come here? What had she hoped to find?
“Excuse me,” an old woman said, tapping her elbow. “But we’d like to get a picture together. Would you take one of us, please?”
Krys nodded, then snapped a few pictures as the couple posed in front of the falls. Handing back the camera, she hurried inside theGlenIrisInn, calling herself an idiot. Ringing the bell, she waited.
A desk clerk came in quickly. “Can I help you?”
“Krys Markman,” she said. “I’m checking in. I’m staying in Caroline’s Cottage.”
“Please fill this out.” The woman handed her a form. “And I need a credit card to make an imprint.”
Krys handed over her credit card, then took it back a few minutes later, handing in the filled out form.
“Staying with us all week?”
And probably going to rue it, Krys thought miserably. “Yes.”
“Have you stayed with us before?”
“Yes,” Krys said quickly. “I’ll just need one key.”
The woman began reciting the checkout times and other rules, all of which Krys knew by heart. She fidgeted, then grabbed the key, not replying to the startled clerk as she ran outside. A couple jumped back as she nearly banged in to them.
“Hey!” the man said, throwing an arm in front of his wife to shield her. “Watch where you’re going—”
“Sorry,” Krys stammered, flushing.
The couple gave her another dirty look, then walked upstairs hand in hand. Krys sat down in an empty wrought iron chair, rubbing her eyes.
Enough already. This was her vacation, a long break to recoup before embarking on a new chapter in her life. Relaxing was the first step. Walking was out; the lamps scattered around theGlenIrisInnwere coming on. So it would have to be alcohol instead.
* * * *
Krys sipped her wine flight, while looking around at her setting, marveling that so much was still the same, and still so beautiful. She’d been in these same surroundings so many times, yet they were still magical to her, even as their familiarity soothed her…
“Will you want dinner?” her waiter asked delicately. “Or would you like to try one of the wines you sampled?”
Where had the time gone? Krys had finished all three samples already. While another flight and more reminiscing sounded wonderful, it was better not to tempt fate, not when she had a hell of a climb in the dark to reach her rented house. “Yes.” She chose an entrée at random from the menu, then one of the wines she’d sampled.
As the waiter walked away, Krys noticed a tall man sitting by himself off in the corner. He was writing something by the light of the table candle. What was compelling was he was doing it in longhand in a small paper book instead of via electronic device. The act was so uncommon that she stared at him. Within a few seconds, the man raised his eyes and caught her staring, his dark eyes meeting hers. Krys immediately looked down, flushing. By the time she gathered enough courage to look up again, the man was gone, his seat empty.
The waiter came back, her wine on a tray. “We’re all out of the salmon, Ma’am,” he said apologetically. “Would you like to choose something else?”
The only craving Krys had was to find out who that handsome man had been. Food could wait. “There was a man sitting out here. Do you know who he was?”
The waiter shifted uneasily. “We’re not allowed to give out information on guests, Ma’am. Sorry.”
“So he is staying here?” Krys said hopefully. “Will he be here a few more days?”
The waited leaned down slightly, his expression secretive. “Aren’t you staying for a few days in Caroline’s Cottage?”
“Yes,” she answered conspiratorially.
“They I’d advise you to get to know your neighbor during your stay,” the waiter said meaningfully.
Krys looked at him in puzzlement. “What?”
The waiter straightened, then set down her glass of wine. “Will you have another entrée, Ma’am?”
Comprehension dawned. “No,” Krys said, hastily grabbing her purse. “Put my drinks on my bill.”
* * * *
Buy Link for Midnight Thirsts II: http://www.amazon.com/Midnight-Thirsts-2-ebook/dp/B008FJOJOQ
Links for Tara Fox Hall:
Tara’s Facebook Page:
For info on my other recently published books Lash and Promise Me, click here: http://www.amazon.com/Lash-ebook/dp/B007UJ6KGC and here http://www.amazon.com/Promise-Me-ebook/dp/B0086G4GDC
Bio: Tara Fox Hall’s writing credits include nonfiction, horror, suspense, action-adventure, erotica, and contemporary and historical paranormal romance. She is the author of the paranormal action-adventure Lash series and the vampire romantic suspense Promise Me series. Tara divides her free time unequally between writing novels and short stories, chainsawing firewood, caring for stray animals, sewing cat and dog beds for donation to animal shelters, and target practice.
Links for Letchworth State Park:
Glen Iris Inn: http://www.glenirisinn.com/
Caroline’s Cottage: http://www.glenirisinn.com/accommodations.cfm?dsp=Carolines_Cottage
Friends of Letchworth State Park: www.friendsofletchworth.com
Letchworth State Park Photos that can be reposted in blogs:
By Andreas F. Borchert